Jan 14, 2009

A Tree Grows in McLaren ... I Hope

In 2007, I worked with Nature in the City, Art-Eco , Habitat Potential, the Natural Areas Program, and a whole bunch of other amazing nature lovers on Earth Day in McLaren Park. One thing I organized that day was the planting of a coast live oak tree in honor of slain Bayview teen, Antwanisha Morgan. Her family and church came to Earth Day to clear the site and plant this sapling. Like Antwanisha, the coast live oak is a San Francisco native. It's a hardy tree once established. It provides nutritious acorns for wildlife, previously for the Ohlone tribes of the area.

I talk about that tree a lot on this blog. I had to water it every 4 days from its planting through October of 2007. It was a small sapling, vulnerable to the dry, hot summer. We planted it in the off-season because that's when Earth Day falls.

I love that darn tree. Watering the tree all summer, I encouraged the growth of invasives that I removed regularly to prevent the suffocation of the oak. I decided to install a few other natives to take up the ground cover sought by the invasives. I put in aster, buckwheat, and a few others, all provided by Greg Gaar's native nursery at the Haight Ashbury Neighbhorhood Center recycling center.

Sometimes I thought I resented tending the tree. I'd write it into my makeshift wall calendar. Erase it. Grudgingly strap a 3 gallon water cooler jug to the rack of my bike and take off. By the time I was crouching to the dog water fountain in McLaren, my mood had always shifted. No matter how rushed I felt, there was something holistic about maintaining that tree. Water on my shoulder, I'd approach the tree with my eyes half shut, expecting its destruction or browning leaves at times. It was nearly always in good shape, though the buckwheat was destroyed.

I'm really far away. SF rains have started. I know that the tree made it through the summer. Blake and Molly have helped water it at times.

Now someone needs to go weed it.

The rain will give rise to a wave of wild oat grass and potentially more threatening radish. There are a few plants, including the oat grass, radish, and mustard that may actually shade this little tree out. They have to go! This tree needs to breathe and see the sun. There is a little rock ring around the tree, about 18 inches in diameter, which encloses the understory I planted. It should probably be slightly expanded at this point.

Anyone out there comfortable enough with their plant id to weed around this tree?

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